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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2795


Mr WEST (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs)(4.00) —Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch, I was saying that the Government intended to conduct a further review of the Migration Act prior to introducing further amending legislation after we received the report of the Human Rights Commission, which is currently conducting hearings into various aspects of the Act, and that at that time we could address certain matters relating to the convictions under the Crimes Act which render a person always liable to deportation. I said that there may be a need to review even the Crimes Act itself and that certain changes to the Migration Act in that regard could occur before, in conjunction with, or even after any possible changes to the Crimes Act itself. During this further review, we can consider also, firstly, possible breaches of basic human rights, which I am certain are still inherent in the current Crimes Act, with particular regard to the apprehension of prohibited non -citizens under sections 38 and 39 of the Migration Act. I am sure that the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), who is trying to interject, would think these provisions quite outrageous. Section 38 states:

An officer may, without warrant, arrest a person whom he reasonably supposes to be a prohibited immigrant, and a person so arrested may, subject to this section , be kept in the custody of any officer or in such other custody as the Minister or an authorized officer directs.

That means an officer can walk in anywhere and say: 'We think you are a prohibited immigrant. We will pick you up and you must prove otherwise'. The officer must take that person before a magistrate within 48 hours. That also relates under section 39 to a person suspected of having a deportation order in effect against him. I do not believe that this is exactly in accordance with what a Federal Australian Labor Party government would want in regard to civil liberties. We will address that problem-we give that pledge to the Committee-but I must wait firstly for the Human Rights Commission report. There could be a need to reassess the Act further in regard to review processes covering criminal deportation procedures, for example with respect to whether the decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ought to be determinative or recommendatory, as they are now. That problem needs to be addressed. The review procedures with regard to section 14, relating to security deportation procedures, can be looked at too. Currently, if the person affected requests a review it is conducted by a commissioner who is appointed by and reports back to the Minister. Obvious avenues exist there for examination and we will look into them.

In conclusion, I trust that this Bill, with its long-awaited reforms and its removal of discrimination between immigrants and aliens, will now be passed in the Senate. I appeal to all members of the Senate, including the Australian Democrats, not to frustrate these much-needed reforms and ideals. In return I know they will all be very interested in what I have just said and in our intention to address any affronts to human rights and civil liberties remaining in the Migration Act.